With December around the corner, everyone’s schedules seem to be booming, and if you’re a dancer you will probably have a lot more gigs than usual in your diary. So how do you get through the festive season, avoiding unnecessary stress and injuries?
My answer may be really un-glamorous – but planning does the trick for me. Since becoming a mother, I’ve realised just how much time I used to waste on bad business process, unnecessary worries and feeding my perfectionistic tendencies. You simply haven’t got the time to fiddle about with too many details when you also have a kid to look after, so I’ve become quite good at prioritising lately and that in turns helps me with my planning. On a practical level that means pre-set booking processes, check lists and lots of long term planning.
My annual planning normally starts the year before. I sit down with my husband and together we look at what weekends we may be doing what, which festivals I will be attending, courses I’ll be teaching and workshops I’ll be doing, and then we mark it all off in our diaries, so there aren’t any unnecessary surprises. Last minute things may of course come up, but we will generally always check with one another on those before committing. We also try to have one family day every month, where there’s no dancing what so ever – we just focus on doing things together which we all enjoy.
Planning in advance like this also means cheaper airline tickets, but also gives me a sense of excitement as well as calm. So many things in life are out of your control – so it’s nice to have something planned and ready.
When it comes to planning for festive gigs, I always ensure plenty of time to get to the venues, and at Christmas and New Year when there are several gigs in one night – plenty of time to get from A to B. Usually traffic is good, because everyone is busy celebrating, but I still work on a worst case scenario. That also allows me time to check and redo hair and make up if necessary, and not least warm up (see Business processes).
If I don’t know the venue, I will always look it up online, so I have an indication on what to expect, road layout etc. I’ve lost track of the amount of times venues have given me the wrong postcode, sending me into a last minute panic on the day!
I also confirm and re-confirm the booking – just to be on the safe side.
I used to have lots of these on a messy notice board, but now I’ve just got them stored neatly on my phone instead. Maybe a bit OTT for some, but I have lists for everything from packing for dance events and performances, to private holidays and present shopping. It helps me save valuable time, because I simply add things to the list as I think of them, and then on the day I simply go through the list as I’m checking my bag, to ensure I’ve got it all.
Check out my blog on how to pack for a dance festival here.
For a festive gig my checklist will normally include:
I normally always check at my costumes are in mint condition before I put them back in the wardrobe, but I still double check their condition at least a 24 hours before a performance, to avoid too much last minute stress.
This is probably what has made the biggest difference in recent years. In case the words turn you off – I basically mean having a set way of handling things such as booking requests.
For example, I have templates for email enquiries with all the prices, FAQs etc. When an email comes in, I simply copy/past – but add a few personal touches too, so people don’t feel like they’re getting it from a machine. I do also take my time to really read it through every single time, as I personally hate getting ‘quick fire’ emails back from others.
It helps me save a lot of time, and that way I also know that all the relevant information has been given, for example when it comes to bookings – where I have a rather long list of FAQ.
Business processes are really all about working more effectively, and I have one for nearly all aspects of my dance business. Many of them aren’t written down, but others are.
Another thing I always make sure to do, before any performance, is having a proper warm up – this is the one thing many tell me they either just leave out, because ‘it’s just dancing’, or because of time restraints. But trust me, those 5 minutes are well spent and will not only make you perform better, but also help keep your body safe and injury free.
There is obviously a lot more detail to all this, but I hope this quick overview has inspired you to maybe plan and manage the busy festive season with more calm than usual.
Feel free to share and don’t forget to comment below to share some of your tips of dancing safe and stress free through the festive season.
Happy – Safe Dancing – Always. 🙂
Did you miss my last post? Read it here: How to find your dance flow